William Paulet was a career soldier and would have passed through Portsmouth in the service of his country, but it wasn't until 1860 that he experienced an extended residency in the town. At the outset of that year he had been Major-General in command of the 1st Brigade at Aldershot when he was appointed Governor of Portsmouth, commanding the south-western district, with accommodation at Governor's House on High Street. From the outset he took an active interest in the community, serving on committees in support of local causes, most notably that for the restoration of the Garrison Chapel (now Royal Garrison Church) which had been in great need of repair when he arrived. His influence played a major part in securing the necessary funding but he was posted away from Portsmouth just as work was about to begin.
William Paulet was the fourth son of Charles Ingoldsby Paulet, thirteenth marquess of Winchester (1764–1843), and his wife, Anne (1773–1841), second daughter of John Andrews of Shotney Hall, Northumberland. He was born at Amport House, Andover, Hampshire (now the Royal Army Chaplain's Department), on 7 July 1804. He attended Eton College and on 1st February 1821 was appointed ensign in the 85th (Duke of York's Own) light infantry. In the following years he ascended the ranks of the army with, successively, the 7th Royal Fusiliers, the 21st Royal North British Fusiliers, the 68th (Durham) regiment of light infantry with whom he served in Gibraltar, the West Indies and North America. At the outbreak of the Crimean War he became brevet colonel, serving as assistant adjutant-general of the cavalry division, under Lord Lucan. He was present at the battles of Alma, Balaklava, Inkerman, and Sevastopol before being appointed by Lord Raglan to command 'The Bosphorus, Gallipoli and the Dardanelles' as Brigadier-General. There he oversaw the hospitals, most notably at Scutari shortly after Florence Nightingale and her nurses had commenced work there. After the fall of Sevastopol he took command of the light division in the Crimea until the end of the campaign. He was created CB (July 1855), the Légion d'honneur, and the order of the Mejidiye (third class).
After leaving Portsmouth in 1865 he was made KCB in 1865, and a lieutenant-general on 8 December 1867; he was adjutant-general of the forces from 1865 to 1870, and was made GCB in 1870, general on 7 October 1874, and field marshal on 10 July 1886. He died, unmarried, at his London residence, 18 St James's Square, Westminster, on 9 May 1893.
Tim Backhouse
Dictionary of National Biography (Entry by H. M. Chichester, rev. James Falkner)
"Story of the Domus Dei" by Archdeacon Wright